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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Oriana Walker, Ph.D.

Name
Oriana Walker Ph.D.
E-Mail
okwalker (at) alumni.harvard.edu

Einrichtung (OKZ)
Philosophische Fakultät → Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften → Wissenschaftsgesch. /Schwerpkt. Bild.u.Org.d.Wissens 19./20.Jhd.
Sitz
Friedrichstraße 191-193 , Raum 4092
Telefon
(030)2093 70610
Postanschrift
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

 Vita

 Arbeitsschwerpunkte

 Forschungsprojekt

Vita

Oriana Walker is an historian of medicine and the human body. She received her BA in philosophy from Reed College and an AM and PhD in the history of science from Harvard University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge and Humboldt University, having formerly held Postdoctoral fellowships on the Wellcome project Life of Breath (Bristol), and at the Max Planck Insitute for the history of Science in Berlin. Her work uses the history of the body as a space for exploring how imaginations of self and world are made and forgotten and, in turn, how these limit or expand human possibility.

 

Arbeitsschwerpunkte

  • Histories of physiology and metabolism
  • Histories of medical evidence
  • Comparative body epistemology
  • The body in the mind sciences
  • Breathing

 

Forschungsprojekt

Modern Inspiration: Breathing Between Laboratory and Clinic

With the new definition of brain death in 1968, breathing no longer defined the boundary between the living and the dead. A piece of medical technology, positive pressure ventilation, made this new kind of death possible. But, long before brain death, organ transplantation, and complex life support, since at least the late 19th-century, positive pressure ventilators had been breathing for a veritable Noah’s Ark of German laboratory animals. It was only as the molecular biological body arose in the postwar period that these machines began to breathe for people. And it was then, too, that investigations of respiration as a metabolic and physiological process, unfolding capriciously in time, lost their lustre. By the era of brain death, in comparison with its former self, breathing had become an uncomplicated natural category, a fact of the matter, exempt from history. This project takes breathing to be an historical thing and describes European and American respiration physiology and clinical practice during the last flourishing of the metabolic body, roughly 1885-1940, as well as the subsequent transformations during the postwar period that lead to a new kind of death. This story is worth remembering because breathing is no ordinary object of knowledge making or embodied practice: for how we think we breath betrays who we think we are.